Capacity Management, Failure Mitigation, and Where to Start?

Standard mitigation tools are a great place to start with Capacity Management, just like any failure mitigation need.

As a telecommunications and IT consultant, we’re often called upon to solve problems. I remember some of my early training that suggested a good place to start is with generative questions, and exploration of the problem with framing questions and through levels of logic to find the opportunity to dovetail their needs with your skills.  But so often, you never get that chance?

Instead, I find a good place to start with many problems is with case studies. Everyone involved in the problem has been a part of the pain, and they can usually provide a case study or two.

It doesn’t matter the context, as a failure of something has usually lead someone to call on you. In business, we are all problem solvers.  General failure mitigation tools, including FMECA, FMEA, quality tools like fishbone Diagrams, all come in handy to describe the failure, and lead you to a mitigation.

Capacity Management is no different.  Consider the categories of capacity management failure.

  • Not enough capacity leads to shortage, and therefore symptoms like long order cycle times, poor network performance, service failures, high operations costs, and related symptoms.
  • Too much capacity leads to wasted resources, high capital costs, and other related symptoms.
  • Surprises in demand can lead to the symptoms of insufficient capacity at times, yet be a temptation leading to too much capacity being deployed.
  • And there are other potential causes including poor information, no data, lack of ownership, etc.; see any basic FMECA or fishbone diagram for guidance.

Note that all of these conditions can exist in the same business, on the same network, and on the same consumable resource.

Just like a solid software development project starts with use cases, a solid systems engineering project has design reviews, and reliability and quality engineering projects seek to understand the ways a system fails and how to improve on that system, Capacity Management is no different. Start with the cases studies that lead an organization to seek a better solution to managing the capacity of its consumable resources, be that network capacity, operations staff, cloud storage, or service and application performance.

About Rupe

Dr. Jason Rupe wants to make the world more reliable, even though he likes to break things. He received his BS (1989), and MS (1991) degrees in Industrial Engineering from Iowa State University; and his Ph.D. (1995) from Texas A&M University. He worked on research contracts at Iowa State University for CECOM on the Command & Control Communication and Information Network Analysis Tool, and conducted research on large scale systems and network modeling for Reliability, Availability, Maintainability, and Survivability (RAMS) at Texas A&M University. He has taught quality and reliability at these universities, published several papers in respected technical journals, reviewed books, and refereed publications and conference proceedings. He is a Senior Member of IEEE and of IIE. He has served as Associate Editor for IEEE Transactions on Reliability, and currently works as its Managing Editor. He has served as Vice-Chair'n for RAMS, on the program committee for DRCN, and on the committees of several other reliability conferences because free labor is always welcome. He has also served on the advisory board for IIE Solutions magazine, as an officer for IIE Quality and Reliability division, and various local chapter positions for IEEE and IIE. Jason has worked at USWEST Advanced Technologies, and has held various titles at Qwest Communications Intl., Inc, most recently as Director of the Technology Modeling Team, Qwest's Network Modeling and Operations Research group for the CTO. He has always been those companies' reliability lead. Occasionally, he can be found teaching as an Adjunct Professor at Metro State College of Denver. Jason is the Director of Operational Modeling (DOM) at Polar Star Consulting where he helps government and private industry to plan and build highly performing and reliable networks and services. He holds two patents. If you read this far, congratulations for making it to the end!
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